Review by Paul Bowler.
The worlds of magic and superheroes collide in Vanish #1, the new creator owned Image Comics series from writer Donny Cates (GOD COUNTRY, Hulk, Thor) and artist Ryan Stegman (Venom, King in Black). Vanish delivers squarely on the initial premise Cates skilfully blends into the narrative of this opening issue; fusing a heady mix of dark fantasy, visceral gore and brutal superhero action to forge a blistering introduction to the fractured existence of Oliver Harrison. A former protege trained in the Out-World of Magic, at fourteen he vanquished the greatest threat to his realm, but the rules he broke to do so came with a high price. Now as an adult he drifts through a mundane existence in the real world, his past all but forgotten as his life drowns in a sea of mental instability, drink and drugs. But his efforts to hide from his nightmarish past take a sharp turn when he is saved from muggers by a hero named Pocket Rocket. Oliver’s dark past resurfaces with a vengeance during this chilling encounter and sets him on a quest to embrace his destiny as the chosen one once more.
Donny Cates takes a slow and deliberate approach to brining this new world of fantasy and heroes to life. What at first appears to be an everyman route to Oliver’s origin quickly takes a dark detour as Cates explores our anti-heroes chequered.past in what can best be described as an R rated Hogwarts. From there we witness the cataclysmic events that brought Oliver Harrison to where he is now as an adult. Its an unflinching trek through magical worlds, where a gifted youth is thrown away, while evil sorcerers and heroes battle for supremacy and power.
Stegman and Mayer’s artwork feels like a throwback to the early, days of Image Comics. There are some pretty distinct Venom flourishes thrown into the mix as well, especially during the grittier sequences . The flow of the story is perfectly matched in the visuals, concise page layouts give the action and characters scope to breath, and the overall level of detail crammed into every panel is little short of spellbinding. Sonia Oback’s colors further enhance the moody atmosphere and edgier tone of this new series.
The way everything is set up in this issue is almost as engrossing as the premise itself. It may be a bit OTT in places, but that’s all part of what makes this issue such a compelling and exciting read. With its no-holds-barred mature themes and striking artwork Vanish #1 is easily one of the best new creator owned comics I’ve read in a long time. If edgier superheroes and dark fantasy are your thing, then Cates and Stegman’s new Vanish comic series is sure to be right up your street.
Publisher Image Comics
Writer Donny Cates / Pencils Ryan Stegman
Inks JP Mayer / Colors Sonia Oback
Letters and Design Johan J Hill
Cover Stegman / JP Mayer / Jason Keith
About The Author
Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook